The Arctic dipole is a very important factor for the climatic conditions near the North Pole. According to research conducted by an international team of scientists, it will probably reverse soon, resulting in a faster rate of sea ice loss.
An international team of scientists set out to explain why sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been decreasing at a slower rate since 2007. An article published last week in the scientific journal “Science” revealed that this unfavorable trend may accelerate when the Arctic dipole (i.e. the correlation between the high over Canada and the low over Siberia) changes. This is very bad news, considering how current climate change is affecting the Earth’s ice resources.
Once every 15 years
Researchers prepared an analysis explaining how the waters of the North Atlantic influence conditions in the Arctic Ocean. The whole process was called “Atlantification”.
– It is a multidisciplinary look at what is happening in the Arctic and beyond. Our analysis looked at the atmosphere, ocean, ice, changing continents and biology in response to climate change, said Professor Igor Polyakov of the Fairbanks College of Natural Science and Mathematics at the University of Alaska, who led the group of researchers.
Thanks to a wealth of data, researchers were able to determine that the Arctic dipole changes once every about 15 years. There are many indications that such a phenomenon will occur in the near future.
The current cycle is called “positive” because the high pressure moves clockwise. This state of affairs has been going on since 2007. The pattern can influence ocean currents, which directly affect air temperature, heat exchange between the atmosphere, ice and ocean, and sea ice transport.
An important factor
According to the authors of the study, the exchange of water masses is “of key importance for the state of the Arctic climate system.” By analyzing conditions since 2007, they found reduced flow from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic Ocean through the Fram Strait and increased flow from the Atlantic to the Barents Sea. Research has shown that these alternating changes are a “resolving mechanism” that is driven by the alignment of the Arctic dipole.
Moreover, it turned out that winds blowing counterclockwise from low-pressure regions are now directing water from Siberian rivers towards the Arctic Ocean. As a result, in the years 2007-2021, the loss of sea ice in the Arctic slowed down compared to the rate in the period 1992-2006. As the layer of fresh water increased, it began to mix with salt water. A thicker layer of fresh water prevented sea ice from melting from the bottom by salty and warmer masses.
The authors added that this mechanism has a huge impact on marine life. Unfortunately, we are already coming to the end of this trend.
“This could have significant climate consequences, including potentially faster rates of sea ice loss across the Arctic and sub-Arctic systems,” Polyakov concluded.
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